12 Plants for Lazy Gardeners

This list was thoughtfully compiled by gardener Hannah Miller and reviewed by horticulturist Elizabeth Smith. Published to Ideas on the 13th August 2021. Updated: 5th February 2023.

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Not everyone has the time to tend to needy plants, but whether you’re a lazy gardener or just live a busy lifestyle, we’ve selected 12 plants just for you.

All 12 plants below have been hand-selected by Hannah Miller because they’re:

  • Stunningly beautiful.
  • Require very little pruning, feeding or tending to.
  • Largely pest and disease-free.
  • Will come back year after year without any special treatment.
  • Easy to grow.

Choose where you locate these plants carefully – grow them in a suitable spot, and they will thrive with little effort on your part, put them in a bad location, and they will require more care and attention:

1) Rozanne Hardy Geranium/Cranesbill:

I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a property where we didn’t have a Cranesbill in the garden, and it’s usually one of the first plants I buy when I move to a new home.

Hardy geraniums (not to be confused with an annual bedding geraniums) provide ground cover up to 50cm high and if placed in an ideal location, require very little attention and in my garden they produce masses of small 2cm blue/purple flowers from late May or early June through to early October.

I’ve never had any issues growing Cranesbills; they are so low maintenance and easy, hence why they at the top of my list.

Key points:

  • Hardy to minus 20, so aren’t affected by frost.
  • I’ve never had slug or bug problems with hardy geraniums.
  • I’ve grown them in a semi-shaded border and in full sun and they thrived in both.
  • My potted plants require watering once or twice a week but are still low-maintenance.
  • Other than a good handful of slow-release fertiliser in spring and summer, I’ve never felt they require lots of feed.
  • I give my geraniums the Chelsea chop and that’s the only pruning I do.
  • Easy to grow.

Read: The complete guide to growing hardy geraniums.

2) Hardy Fuschia:

You really can’t go wrong with fuschias, and the hardy variety copes well with winter weather in most parts of the UK and comes back year after year.

I’ve found that even after a hard frost with the top growth died back, new growth appeared the following spring. I have two hardy fuchsias in my garden, both in pots, and neither has had issues with pests, disease or cold weather,

Unlike their annual bedding cousins, hardy fuschias have a sturdier upright habit with arching stems holding dangling flowers.

Key points:

  • Slug and bug resistant, I’ve never used slug pellets or chemical sprays on my fuchsias.
  • Requires minimal fertiliser; I apply a slow-release feed once or twice a year, and that’s it.
  • Grow in semi-shade, and it will require watering only when it’s scorching outside. Grow in full sun or a small container, and it will typically require watering once a week.
  • I’ve found that pruning is optional, and I only do it if the stems are leggy and draping on the floor.

3) Hydrangea Paniculata:

If you want to make a statement in your garden, then hydrangea paniculata is for you.

The huge blooms on this popular shrub are unmistakable. Expect conical panicles from late summer into autumn.

I’ve chosen this shrub and included it in my list as it’s a huge space filler with some varieties reach up to 4 metres in height.

Hydrangea Panciculata was the first hydrangea I ever grew, and unlike many other hydrangeas, this variety is more hardy (down to US zone 3/minus 30C), and I’ve found it to be more forgiving of pruning mishaps that prevent other hydrangeas from blooming.

As with all hydrangeas, I’ve found that slugs aren’t usually interested, and very few other pests are of concern.

From my experience, the paniculata also copes with direct sunlight and dry soil better than most other hydrangeas.

Key points:

  • Produces huge blooms, larger than on any other hydrangea I’ve grown.
  • I’ve found the paniculata to be generally slug and bug resistant.
  • I’ve seen other gardeners have issues with pruning hydrangeas but the paniculata will recover from mishaps or aggressive pruning (unlike many other hydrangeas).
  • I’ve seen it grown successfully in full sun or partial shade.
  • I know that it prefers moist soil but copes with drier conditions better than any other non-climbing hydrangea.
  • It only needs fertiliser once or twice a year and once-yearly pruning back to a framework of stems.
  • It needs more frequent watering if grown in a pot. However, place this hydrangea in a semi-shaded border, and it will only require watering during very hot spells.

4) Coneflowers:

I’ve always found coneflowers to be ridiculously easy to grow, so much so that I literally toss seeds onto the soil, and by spring, they are sprouting.

Daisy-like petals grow on top of 2-4 foot long stems surrounded by bushy leaves and last from June into September, coneflowers are a favourite of mine, and I always grow them in my garden.

Choose from yellow, white or the classic purple coneflowers; these perennials come back year after year and are so versatile they go well with almost any other plant making them the perfect companion plant.

Key points:

  • I’ve started the seeds off early indoors, and they flowered in the first year, but if you sow directly into the garden, they may not flower until year 2.
  • I’ve never applied fertiliser, and in my garden, they’re drought tolerant as well.
  • They performed well in a sunny spot in my border.
  • Slugs prefer other plants, and I’ve never seen them go for coneflower leaves.
  • I’ve never had issues with disease or bug damage.
  • I don’t deadhead them as I’m trying to get them to set seeds and spread.

Read: The complete guide to growing stunning coneflowers.

5) Lavender:

Lavender is another shrub that I’ve found easy to maintain and requires very little attention, apart from a yearly haircut to stop it from growing woody.

If you live in a cooler area of the UK with colder winters, choose English lavender. For those of you in warmer southern zones, try French lavender, which isn’t as hardy but produces unusual and beautiful bracts from spring into early summer.

Lavenders rarely require watering, never need fertiliser and aren’t affected by slugs or other pests.

They prefer lots of sunlight, thrive in poor-quality soil, and they recover quickly from light pruning.

Key points:

  • Locate in a sunny spot with free-draining soil.
  • I’ve never seen bugs or slugs do damage to my lavenders.
  • Prune once a year; you can even use shears to save time.
  • There’s no need to water established lavenders, and they never need fertiliser which makes them grow woody and sparse.
  • I lost a few lavenders when I tried to move them, so I’ve concluded that their roots don’t like being lifted.

Read more: Our guide to growing French Lavender.

6) Alliums:

I can’t imagine my garden without alliums in it; I love them so much that I also added them to my list of favourite ball-shaped flowers.

Alliums are the ultimate spring-flowering bulb and are super easy to grow as they start to bloom in the rainy season and rarely require water or fertiliser.

Being part of the onion family, very few pests eat them, and slugs and bugs ignore them entirely. I have never had issues with pests, and the alliums in my borders come back year after year, making them perfect for lazy gardeners.

Key points:

  • Mine come back year after year (unlike my tulips).
  • They look exquisite if located amongst ornamental grass.
  • Popular with garden designers and can help create a modern feel to any garden.
  • In my garden, they are unaffected by slugs, bugs and diseases.
  • No need to fertilise and they perform best in poor, low-nutrient soil.
  • Their foliage turns yellow quickly, so I hide it by planting leafy, foliage-heavy plants nearby.

Read more: How to grow perfect alliums.

7) Ornamental Grasses:

There are hundreds of varieties of ornamental grasses to choose from, with red, blue and yellows coloured plants the most popular.

Also, choose from evergreen or deciduous, with the evergreen variety requiring very little, if any, yearly pruning.

Ornamental grasses all have one thing in common; they are easy to grow and require only minimal care and maintenance.

I like these tall grasses as they add movement to the garden; they sway in the wind and complement more rigid plants.

Key points:

  • Almost entirely pest and disease-resistant – rust can be prevented by spacing grasses correctly, while rabbits are just as likely to eat them as any other type of grass.
  • I’ve never felt the need to water or fertilise ornamental grasses.
  • Choose from cold or warm-season grasses; both put on growth at different times of the year.
  • Can be used to fill space and make a statement.

8) Weigela:

Another shrub that I’ve found performs well in average soil and requires no special care or treatment is weigela. I have two in my garden, and apart from a yearly prune, they are a breeze to maintain.

Choose from taller varieties to fill space or as background in a large border, or pick one of the many compact versions.

Weigela produces small showy tubular flowers that are a favourite of bees, from May to July.

The leaves are green, and of medium to small size and as with all the plants on our list, slugs and bugs stay away from weigela.

I’ve left my weigelas for several years without pruning, and they still flowered just fine.

Key points:

  • Small clusters of tubular flowers add plenty of colour without making a huge statement or distracting attention from other plants.
  • The slugs and bugs in my garden seem uninterested in them.
  • Very few diseases affect this shrub, I’ve never had issues.
  • I dig in a slow-release feed once a year, and that’s it.

Explore our weigela growing guide here.

9) Oakleaf Hydrangea:

The second hydrangea on my list is the oakleaf variety, a shrub known for its leaves as much as its impressive flowers.

While not as hardy as the paniculata (US zone 6b versus zone 8), this hydrangea produces showy panicles of flowers and can grow even taller and wider, with some varieties growing up to 7 metres.

Grow in a flowerbed, and you won’t need to provide much extra water except on the hottest of days, while potted oakleaf hydrangeas require more watering during the summer.

Key points:

  • Beautiful oakleaf-like leaves.
  • Long panicles of showy flowers.
  • Slug and generally bug resistant, I’ve never heard of anyone having issues with either.
  • Apply slow-release fertiliser once or twice a year and keep an eye on soil moisture during dry spells.
  • Pruning is easy; I used to prune them in spring and always left enough buds for the flowers to form.

10) Catmint:

Catmint is a popular alternative to lavender that I grew at my previous property.

Locate in a sunny border or raised bed with drier, free-draining soil.

I found that catmint was as tolerant as lavender and didn’t require excessive watering or fertiliser, and was, by and large, pest-free too.

Key points:

  • Very low maintenance once established in a border.
  • It can be grown in pots.
  • Avoid damp, wet soils and shaded parts of the garden.
  • I only pruned it once a year, after the flowers had faded.

11) Clumping Bamboo:

A bamboo listed in a guide to plants for lazy gardeners? Have we gone crazy?

While many species of bamboo can be invasive and difficult to control, clumping bamboo only spreads horizontally by 6-12 inches per year and is much easier to maintain compared to running bamboo. I know because we have it growing in the corner of our garden.

While young bamboo specimens are thirsty plants, they require much less maintenance and care once established.

With over 1400 types of bamboo to choose from, you have plenty of choices. Go for a compact, clumping variety, and you won’t need to worry about it spreading too far.

Key points:

  • Ideal for screening.
  • It can make for a delightful feature.
  • Generally pest free.
  • Slug resistant.
  • I’ve seen it grown successfully in pots too.

12) Snowball Viburnum:

Have I saved the best for last?

Let’s see:

If you like the large blooms found in hydrangea paniculata and aborescens, you’ll surely fall in love with the snowball blooms on this viburnum and the two species have very similar maintenance requirements too with viburnum only slightly more tolerant of dry soil conditions.

Key points:

  • Performs best in dappled or part shade.
  • Huge, distinctive snowball blooms.
  • Can grow up to 4 metres.
  • Alternative to hydrangea aborescens.
  • I’ve seen them pruned very aggressively and they still bloomed.
  • Generally disease-free.
  • Slug resistant but I’ve seen aphids affect younger plants.

Viburnum opulus made it into our list of the best spring-flowering plants, you can read how to get the most from this showy shrub via this opulus growing guide.

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Meet The Author: Hannah Miller

Hannah is a former NHS administrator, mother of two and keen qualified gardener who loves growing new plants and experimenting in the garden.

She enjoys gardening as much as she cares about the environment and likes to share her knowledge with others.

This year is all about pollinators, and Hannah has set herself the goal of only buying new plants that attract pollinators; she aims to make the garden as bee and butterfly friendly as possible.

More About Hannah Miller

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Why Trust Us? Hannah's Experience Backed by a Qualified Horticulturist

At DIY Gardening, we follow a detailed, rigorous process to create content that is helpful, factually correct and meets the highest standard of integrity.

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1) We select a topic that we feel will help our readers.

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Hannah Miller has been a gardening enthusiast for over 12 years and has a level 3 qualification in horticulture. She’s constantly growing new plants and frequently writes for us.

Here’s what she told us:

I selected these plants because of my first-hand experience growing them and because I’m 100% sure they would suit lazy or busy gardeners who don’t want to spend every day in their gardens tending to them.

As accuracy is important, we asked fully qualified horticulturist Elizabeth Smith to review and fact-check this guide. Elizabeth has a diploma in horticulture and previously worked at RHS Wisley.

Explore: Elizabeth’s profile and qualifications.

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